23 January 2009
Green Party condemns BBC over Gaza appeal
The Green Party has criticised the BBC for refusing to transmit a charity appeal which would have brought much-needed humanitarian aid to thousands of people in Gaza.
The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella-organisation representing 13 of the world's most respected charities, wanted to broadcast the appeal under an agreement with the BBC dating back to 1963. Traditionally the BBC, and other broadcasters, allow free air-time immediately after national news bulletins for such appeals.The BBC's refusal to show the programme, claiming it could not be certain the aid would reach its target, has allowed other broadcasters such as ITV and Sky to also deny transmission.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP said the BBC's decision was disgraceful and called for an inquiry. "It is not for the BBC to tell these professional aid agencies how to do their jobs," she said. "Everyone knows the situation in Gaza is dangerous and that the cease-fire is extremely fragile. But aid lorries are getting through.
"The people of Gaza are desperate for medical supplies, and food, and the DEC works with United Nations' organisations to ensure that this sort of aid reaches the right place. These DEC appeals are worth millions of pounds to the charities and it is absolutely disgraceful that the BBC should refuse to broadcast the appeal."
Some journalists have questioned the BBC's coverage of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, suggesting many news images of civilian casualties had been censored as unsuitable for transmission. Dr Lucas suggested the BBC had laid itself open to allegations of bias. The Green Party is planning to join a protest outside the BBC tomorrow.
"If you want to know what's been going on in Gaza you watch Al Jazeera rather than the BBC," said Dr Lucas. "There is clear prima facie evidence suggesting that in some cases war crimes have been committed, but you wouldn't know that from watching the BBC. I will be writing to the BBC Trust, and to Ofcom, asking for an inquiry into the BBC's coverage of this conflict."